America is still America
Well it has to be said by someone. I know the hate mail will flow.
I understand, and am gleeful, about the history being made as President Obama becomes the first Black man that is President of the United States. It is a moment that I never expected in my lifetime.
That said, I have to wonder and comment on the way the media and many people are treating this as if the world has instantly changed. It is as if suddenly every wrong in America has been wiped away. Or so the media would like many to believe.
I recall a recent television commercial on BET that I caught as I was flipping channels. It had a little girl trying to watch the inauguration, but was far too short to see over the crowd. Then Dr. Martin Luther King comes and lifts up the girl so she can watch the Oath of Office. The commercial ends with the words, The Dream Achieved.
Hogwash. The television commercial is inspirational, but the message is false. President Obama is not the fulfillment of the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, and to suggest as such belittles what he strived for. The Civil Rights Movement was not about just gaining political stature, or a title. It was about the understanding of the fundamental rights of equality that Government and society needs to recognize.
Yes, President Obama is one aspect of that realization. But that does not mean America has reached a point of equality. Oscar Grant was murdered after Obama was elected. Millions of African Americans are drop-outs, and single parents. The pay rates of African Americans still lags that of White peers. The stereotypes of African Americans being criminals and/or violent still permeates music, television and movies (when we have the chance to be seen) by and large. Drugs are still allowed to enter Black and poor communities. The dream is not achieved.
President Obama is just one man. He has entered one position, powerful as it is. And it is worthy of acclaim and celebration. But we should not distract ourselves from the reality that exists before, during and after this moment.
Racism and prejudice still exists in America. It is part of the legal system at every level. It still unbalances the opportunities African Americans (and all other 'minorities') experience in this nation.
10% of this nation vocally stated that they would not accept a non-White president. That is huge. Who knows how many were unwilling to make that same statement publicly. Obviously not enough to prevent President Obama's election, but far more than enough to put me at unease.
There is still only 1 African American in the Senate, a mere handful in the House of Representatives. There are few Governors and Mayors that are African American, or just non-White. There are far less than 1% of major CEO's that are 'minorities'. Even in the far-left, politically highly liberal, halls and studios of Hollywood there is barely more than a scattering of non-Whites in front of or behind the cameras.
It took 14 days for the ex-cop who murdered Oscar Grant in cold blood to be arrested. Protestors of the inaction of police in Oakland were arrested the day of protests. National news media coverage of the murder spoke only to the riots and lawsuit the murder provoked. And virtually nothing was said of other acts of police abuse in the nation at the start of the new year.
The dream has not been achieved, yet.
I am exuberant about President Obama's accomplishment. But the world has not changed this second. Racism has not died. Prejudice has not faded away. The ills and wrongs of this nation have not been wiped clean. The slate is still filled.
Rejoice today because it is a day worthy of celebration. But let us not be distracted from the truth that is daily life. President Obama may change many things, but it won't be tomorrow. He has become a symbol, but action still needs to be taken. Millions will remember this day, but it is only one day.
President Obama is not THE answer. He is not THE only change. He is one part of a huge goal that was hoped for by millions of Americans, including Dr. Martin Luther King. But he is not the end of the road nor the ultimate answer to the challenges before us. The dream is still a dream. And we must still strive to make it a reality.
But thankfully we are one step and one day closer to that reality. Let's just not lose focus.